A bar owner 'will be killed' if worrying increase in pub attacks continue - industry chief
Publicans around the country are facing a worrying increase in attacks, with an industry head warning lenient court sentences are to blame.
Padraig Cribben of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland said attacks on publicans around the country are escalating as those behind the assaults have no fear of custodial sentences.
He warned that a bar owner will be killed if the current trend is not addressed and he called for sterner deterrents to tackle the problem.
The VFI Chief Executive said it receives calls on a weekly basis about assaults right around the country. Publicans were being left with serious injuries and premises were being destroyed on a regular basis, said Mr Cribben.
He estimated such attacks had increased by 40pc-50pc in recent years, with publicans sustaining serious facial injuries, broken noses and cracked ribs.
“Those are the measurable injuries, what is immeasurable is the mental trauma the victims are experiencing.
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“There has been a significant increase in these attacks. I have heard of dozens of cases in the last 24 months. Many don’t come to public attention but people are being left badly injured,” he warned.
Mr Cribben said a significant number of pubs were being destroyed in the attacks, with the average cost of the damage running to €20,000 - €30,000.
“In some cases it’s actually hitting six figures,” he added.
He said the VFI was seriously concerned about the lack of proper deterrents for such attacks, insisting that he has seen no such incidents result in a custodial sentence.
“The gardai are doing their job and bringing the cases to court but the constant trend we see if these people being let off with lenient sentences. A lot of these people are repeat offenders but they are attacking with impunity because they know they won’t face a custodial sentence,” he added.
He said judges needed to take a harder stance in such cases adding: “Without stronger sentencing imposed, these acts of violence are likely to continue. If some people believe that they can act with relative impunity they will do so. That is the message they are currently receiving.”
He warned that if the assaults continued it could result in a fatality.
“Somebody very shortly is going to be killed. We are looking at that scenario, things are that bad.
“Many of our members are feeling vulnerable and exposed. This is due to the severe lack of deterrent against such acts of violence. People should not have to go about their daily business in fear. There appears to be greater sensitivity towards the convicted than towards the victim. That is hardly right in a so called civilised society,” he added.